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Miller excited to bring 'old school' approach back to Tustin
Tustin's new varsity football coach has been down this road before, and he’s excited about his return.
Myron Miller, who coached the Tillers for 17 years, is back running the program and hopes to bring Tustin back to its glory days. Tustin won 10 league titles under Miller and captured the CIF Southwest Division title in 2011. Miller was named the county coach of the year that season. Tustin advanced to four CIF finals appearances under Miller.
Miller, 72, replaces Winter Welz, who coached for 2 1/2 years and led Tustin to the CIF playoffs the past two years.
Miller was the coach from 1996 to 2012 and notched a 154-69-1 record before retiring. The last three years, he’s been an assistant at Tustin.
But Miller apparently still has the fire. When the opportunity to be the head coach again was presented, he took it.
“When Winter left, the principals asked me if I wanted the job and I found out that three years away from it, I wasn’t very happy,” Miller said last week. “I’ll be 73 in October, and I think I’m going to try and coach until I’m 80. They can fire me, but I won’t quit again.
“All the coaches are longtime coaches with me and very loyal, dedicated guys who know what I expect. It’s real positive here. I’ve coached a bunch of them and I’ve hired most of them. I’m real happy with my assistant coaches. They make it easy for me to come back.”
'I WAS PRETTY BORED'
Miller said he retired too soon.
“I had a lot happening. My wife (Kathy) died (in 2012),” he said. “I had been at it for 46 years and I thought maybe the grass was greener and I got on the other side and I said, ‘I didn’t have anything to do.’ I found myself watching TV and wasting my time.
“My whole life has always been my family, and they’re grown and gone. When I wasn’t coaching, I was pretty bored. When the opportunity came again I said, ‘Well, you’re getting a second chance.’ Not many guys get a second chance, so I’m going to try not to make a fool of myself and coach a second time and not get fired.”
Miller knew some of the players on this year’s team since when the coached them as freshmen.
“The freshmen are now juniors and I coached them and we did pretty well and we had a pretty good relationship and had a good season,” he said. “It’s pretty easy for me to coach those guys.”
Miller is aware that his hiring goes against the trend of having younger coaches who can relate to players. But he isn’t too concerned, noting that his younger assistant coaches are also there to help.
“I’m more like a grandfather figure,” he said. “I’m not worried about the kids relating to me as much as respecting and understanding the process and if they’re not willing to do it, I’m old-school,” Miller said. “If they’re not willing to work hard and be here every day, then football at Tustin is not for them.”
One of his assistants, Zack Bell, who played for Miller at Tustin from 1998 to 2000, is helping Miller with the secondary. Bell said the players have adapted well to Miller and that he has full confidence in Miller.
“They love him,” Bell said. “It’s a big difference from last year to this year. Myron is very old-school and has his old-school ways. But they’re definitely adapting to the changes. He brings a no-nonsense approach: hard work, every day.
“Myron is a great guy and he takes football very serious; it’s life as he knows it. We’ve been around him forever and he has great coaches around him. He’s an original and you appreciate what he does and he will do anything for just about anybody,” Bell said. “This year, we look to bring that grittiness and that toughness back. We’re in the weight room working hard and we will be ready to go.”
LOTS OF WORK TO DO
Miller said the Tillers need a lot of work to get ready for their opener on Aug. 26 against Dominguez. Practices in pads begin Aug. 8.
“We have a long way to go,” Miller said. “We got a couple kids coming back off injuries. If they come back, we’re great. If they don’t get back, we have to fill some holes.
“I think we’re going to be a solid team,” Miller said. “We’ve got a couple quarterbacks, which I’ve never had before and we’ve got a couple real good running backs and a big offensive line so I think we’re going to be a solid football team. Hopefully we will contend for a league championship.
“We’re trying to get better with our secondary on defense and we’re trying to understand how hard we have to work to make this offense go. The kids have been used to playing touch football the last three years and Tustin doesn’t play touch football anymore.
“I just feel like the spread (offense) is touch football. We went against Foothill last year and had eight plays from the 5-yard line and couldn’t score and lost the game, 13-7.”
Miller, who in his first stint at Tustin had teams who dominated games with a running attack, indicated the running game will be critical in the Tillers’ success. But he also plans to have Tustin pass the ball, too.
“Every team I coach, will go for it on fourth-and-one or -two,” he said. “I don’t care where we are on the field. The only time we will punt is if we have a long-yardage situation deep in our own territory.”
Sagel Simon will be the starting quarterback and the backup will be Derek Soto. Soto will likely be one of the running backs, Miller said.
AIMING FOR A LEAGUE TITLE
Miller’s top priority appears to be a league title.
“We haven’t won a league championship in three years, we haven’t won a playoff in three years,” he said. “I have a real simple goal: Win every game we’re supposed to win and a couple that we’re not, and if you do, that, we will have our season.”
“The last five years at Tustin that I was here, we were league champions all five years. We went to the semis all five years and went to the final three of those five years. And we won a CIF championship, throwing the ball for eight yards in the final game. So, we would like to throw the ball. But if we can’t, we will be all right.”
Miller is focused on restoring the glory days at Tustin. There will be a major emphasis on weight training and long, hard practices.
“It’s going to take the kids buying into the hard work because it’s all about the work,” he said. “You’re going to pay a price to play football for Tustin High School. I don’t think anybody will ever outwork Tustin. If you work hard, good things happen in life.”
Miller makes it clear what his top priority in life is.
“My grandkids I see once in a while,” he said. “I don’t care to have a social life. I just care about working the kids (in practice) and going after football wins. It’s football, football, football, and every once in a while, my kids can get me to visit the grandkids on a weekend.”
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